Forum for Transnational Collaboration in the Visual Arts | November 17 & 18

By: Melissa Vonimary Sovik, MAIS ’18

On November 17 & 18, we are organizing the Forum for Transnational Collaboration in the Visual Arts with the objective of bringing together emerging voices from previously marginalized countries that are poised to become an essential part of the global conversation in contemporary art and institutions today. What traditionally used to be the art capitals of the world seems to be changing alongside a major shift in the world economy. We wish to create conversation on these topics and hope that it will promote a network of engagement among arts professionals.

As a student in the 21st century, I find the topic of globalization perhaps more relevant than ever. My generation is constantly exposed to the effects of globalization, whether positive or negative. I believe it is important to get a deeper understanding of its scope and its implications; globalization touches other aspects of society as well. In order to be able to address the issues of globalization, a comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon is essential.

Prior to reading John Zarobell´s book “Arts and the Global Economy”, I had little knowledge of the art industry. It had actually never crossed my mind how the industry alone contributes to billions in the world economy each year. For some countries, it often represents a larger share of its GDP than other sectors, such as tourism and transportation. Besides the jobs directly linked to the production, selling and exhibition of arts, one has to take into consideration the creating of jobs indirectly linked to the arts and creative industry, whether it is in the infrastructure, management or real estate. This opened my eyes to a whole new dimension in the art world. The little economist inside me was left impressed.

There is no doubt that the globalization is deeply interconnected with the arts. As John Zarobell writes in his book: “This is also globalization: not simply the products and lifestyles marketed by multinational corporations, but the way in which consciousness is engaged in making sense of expressions of transnational experience”.

Dhaka Art Summit 2015
Dhaka Art Summit 2015

In this symposium, nine participants will discuss the emergent character of their own artistic domains and enter into conversation with one another. We count on participants from cities like Johannesburg, Mexico City, and Hong Kong. They will be divided into three panels taking place Friday and Saturday. Following the final panel, there will be a tour of the Mission District and a performance at Incline Gallery, a local non-profit art space. Some of the topics that will be discussed include the overlapping circuits of production and consumption in the art world, the dynamic relationship between culture and political liberalization, gentrification and cultural districts, government support of or intervention in the arts, the informal economy of the arts, and global art brands.

I encourage you to attend this symposium as I believe it will lead to a deeper understanding of globalization and I have no doubt it will be highly beneficial to graduate and undergraduate students from USF.

I invite you to take a look at our webpage as well as Facebook page for more information about the event.

To register for the event:


Faculty Friday: John Zarobell

Every Friday, the International Studies Department will profile one of our amazing faculty members so you can get to know them better and see all the amazing work our faculty do!

John at a waterfall in Idaho

John Zarobell is Assistant Professor and Undergraduate Director in the International Studies Department at USF. He studied Studio Art at Hampshire College as an undergraduate and received an MA and PhD History of Art from the University of California at Berkeley.

After a couple of years of teaching at Stanford University, Tulane University and Loyola University, New Orleans, he accepted a position as a curator of European Painting at the Philadelphia Museum of Art where he worked for six years before moving to San Francisco and taking a similar position in the Painting and Sculpture Department at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. While curating blockbuster and international exhibitions, he published his first book in 2010, Empire of Landscape: Space and Ideology in French Colonial Algeria, 1830-1870. During that period he wrote for academic journals, such as Art History and Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide and also began writing art criticism for San Francisco-based art periodicals Art Practical and the San Francisco Arts Quarterly.

John’s exhibition Postcolonial Contemporary at Incline Gallery, 2016

He began teaching in the undergraduate International Studies program (BAIS) in 2011. This interdisciplinary program required him to reframe his body of knowledge and work in between disciplines rather than focusing on art history. That was a welcome change since he had long pursued interdisciplinary research, focusing on issues such as colonialism, cultural and economic history, and geography. He shortly began a research project, titled Art and the Global Economy, that considers how globalization has affected the art world in the last generation, considering primarily institutions, exhibition platforms and the market for contemporary art. His particular interest is to demonstrate the multiple directions of cultural flows as a result of globalization and to circumscribe a counter-hegemonic dimension of the current art world in which formerly peripheral countries are coming to greater prominence and altering its future dynamics. This research has taken him to art events around the world and will be published by University of California Press in 2017. His next projects will be an exhibition on the art developed in emerging Asian megacities as well as a global study of artist collectives.

John with artist Shahzia Sikander in Lahore, Pakistan, 2014

Since coming to USF five years ago, Professor Zarobell has taught sixteen different classes and worked with undergraduates and graduate students in the International Studies department, and also in Museum Studies, Art History and Urban Studies. His areas of interest are global history and globalization, colonialism and imperialism, modern and contemporary art, migration, urban studies, and European studies. He also teaches an International Studies internship for the undergraduates and advises students on getting internships and professional development more generally. He is on the Jobs and Internships Task Force convened by the Career Services Center and so he follows closely the university’s efforts to prepare students for life after college. In his free time, he attends art openings and performances, curates exhibitions in nonprofit galleries, and hikes in the mountains. He no longer makes art but believes that participating in the global conversation about art through his writing will serve not only artists and arts institutions, but will help to promote a richer and more culturally diverse world.

Faculty Friday: Annick T.R. Wibben

Every Friday, the International Studies Department will profile one of our amazing faculty members so you can get to know them better and see all the amazing work our faculty do!


Annick T. R. Wibben is Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, where she also directs the Peace & Justice Studies program. Originally from Hamburg (Germany), Prof. Wibben went to a bilingual French-German High School and got her Vordiplom in Economics from the University of Hamburg, where she also completed a French specialist language program. She then moved to Finland to study International Relations and European Studies at the University of Tampere. After receiving her Masters of Social Science, she moved again – this time to the small seaside town of Aberystwyth, Wales (UK), where she received here Ph.D. from the oldest Department of International Politics in the world. Fortunately, as a scholar of global politics, she continues to have the opportunity travel around the world to present her work or teach specialized courses.

Before joining the USF faculty in 2005 – indeed, even before she finished her Ph.D., she worked as co-Investigator (with James Der Derian) of the Information Technology, War and Peace Project at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. She arrived in Providence, Rhode Island, a few weeks before September 11, 2001 and spent much of the first year at the Watson Institute working on rapid analysis of the events of 9/11 – curating an award-winning website which you should check out: During her time on the East Coast, she also taught at Brown University and Bryant University as well as at Wellesley College where she was a Visiting Assistant Professor. During the fall 2003 semester she was a Rockefeller Humanities Fellow with the National Council for Research on Women and the Center for the Study of Women and Society at the CUNY Graduate Center in in New York City.

Her research straddles critical security and military studies, international theory, and feminist international relations. She also has a keen interest in questions of methodology, representation, and writing. Her current research reflects these varied interests, though she is most frequently associated with the field of Feminist Security Studies, which is the subject of a (free) special virtual issue of Security Dialogue on “A Decade of Feminist Security Studies Revisited” (with Maria Stern). More recently, she has also become involved in debates about feminist foreign (and security) policy, engaging in some non-academic debates also (e.g. “The Value of Feminist Scholarship on SecurityTurkish Weekly, 8 March 2016). Having been interviewed by Swedish National Radio in December 2014 on her research, she has continued to work in this area, leading a webinar on the same topic for the Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom (check it out!).


She has published two books: Feminist Security Studies: A Narrative Approach (2011), which uses 9/11 as a case study to lay out how the way in which dominant security narratives frame events limits our imagination and precludes more creative approaches to address violence, and Researching War: Feminist Methods, Ethics & Politics (2016), an edited collection which showcases the difference that feminist approaches to studying war make in what we can see and how we can move beyond war. Her current research examines the varied experiences of women who have served in the U.S. military during the ‘Global War on Terror’ – here she is interested in connecting servicewomen’s everyday experiences to broader debates about the U.S. military (such as the decision to open all combat positions to women) as well as the deep militarization of U.S. society and its global effects.

As an immigrant, Prof. Wibben is dedicated to learning as much as possible about her adopted home – and to stand in solidarity with its most marginalized communities. This means that she is reading as much as she can about the settler colonial history of the U.S. (and she thinks you should too – you e.g. Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz’ An Indigenous Peoples History of the United States) as well as the native peoples who survived the genocide and still care for the land today (check out the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust initiative here in the Bay Area). She also thinks that #BlackLivesMatter and tries to not only learn more about the continuing impacts of slavery, which find its expression in the unique racialization of U.S. society, but to connect it to the global inequalities that she teaches about.

When she’s not busy with all of the above, Prof. Wibben can be found crossing town with her kids for their various activities, going for walks at Ocean Beach (especially when its foggy & windy, because that reminds her of home), or enjoying a coffee somewhere – preferably in her own back yard so she can check on how things are growing. She is often joined here by her cat, Coco, who loves all things academic (it’s an academicat!).


Welcome to the 2016-2017 Academic Year! A Message from the Chair

Welcome to the 2016-2017 academic year! It is hard to believe the summer has flown by and it is time for classes to begin again. The faculty and staff of the International Studies Department are delighted to welcome back our returning undergraduate and graduate students! We are also so thrilled to welcome to the International Studies family over 60 new undergraduate majors and 38 new graduate students. Together you are part of a vibrant community of approximately 300 students, faculty, and staff that call International Studies at the University of San Francisco (ISatUSFCA) home.

Global PotluckInternational Studies Global Potluck Dinner, Spring 2016

I am often asked by students, parents, and employers what benefits there are to an undergraduate or graduate degree in International Studies. There are many answers I can give to this question, but the one I want to mention today concerns the big picture reality of the world we live in and why a degree in IS is essential to address these problems.

Anyone paying attention to the news over the summer can probably identify a number of global issues that need new solutions, concrete action, and dedicated advocates. So many events occurred across the globe this summer that provide a clear demonstration of why an interdisciplinary, multi-method, knowledge and skills-based education in International Studies from the USF is an excellent choice. Just some of these include: the ongoing war in Syria and the corresponding refugee crisis; the attempted coup in Turkey and the crackdown on the freedom of expression and due process rights; the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom to pull the country out of the European Union; the continued dispute over the islands in the South China Sea; the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio and the spread of the Zika virus; the United Nations admitting responsibility in the cholera outbreak in Haiti; and the United States Presidential elections.

Each of these events contains multiple facets touching on issues of development, human rights, environmental justice, culture and identity, power dynamics, international law and organizations, the global-local connection, the global economic system, and relationships between a variety of state and non-state actors. Tackling any of these issues from the perspective of a single disciplinary lens, while able to provide some valuable insight, is not enough. The issues facing us today are complex and solutions are going to come from taking a broad perspective that encompasses many different fields and many different opportunities.

The degree programs in International Studies at USF do just that. As an interdisciplinary department, both our undergraduate and graduate programs draw on faculty expertise across disciplines so students are exposed to the very variety of approaches to issues that is needed in our complex world. In the department, we have faculty with expertise in political science, international and comparative law, cultural anthropology, indigenous rights issues, refugee issues, art history, globalization, colonialism, political and diplomatic history, food security and sustainability, environmental studies, mega events and infrastructures, and conflict resolution. This cross-disciplinary variety means that students in our program are exposed to different perspectives that provide a greater breadth and depth of expertise to address those issues that matter most to them. As you begin your studies this fall, you will start to see the benefits of these different approaches to addressing global crises.

In addition to the interdisciplinary approach to tackling global issues, we are continually working to provide our students with the skills they needs to hit the ground running in their chosen profession after graduating from USF. The fall semester is full events designed to provide students with the resources and skills they need to succeed including two internship and career workshops, a brown-bag lunch on applying to graduate school and law school, and talk by a non-profit leader on careers in NGOs. For Spring 2017 we are offering a new 2 unit course open to both graduate and undergraduate students on Human Rights Advocacy Skills designed specifically to provide students with skills such as grant writing, advocacy plans, and writing OpEds.

Tracy HardingTracy Harding, Regional Director, Office of Foreign Missions, U.S. Department of State speaks to students about careers in diplomacy and the Peace Corps, February 2016

It won’t be all work though! We have lots of fun events planned for the fall as well to give you a chance to engage with your fellow IS folks in a more relaxed setting. Our first department social will take place on September 8 in the Getty Lounge. Come meet all the new students and reconnect with old friends! On September 23 and October 7 join us to cheer on fellow International Studies students playing for USF men’s soccer and women’s volleyball. We are also planning events to engage with International Studies alumni, a writing day to help you prepare for finals, and talks by a diverse array of USF faculty and visiting lecturers.

alumni event - CopyAlumni Mixer at Barrelhead Brewhouse, September 2015

We have an exciting year planned and we hope you are looking forward to it as much as we are! We know there are many, many serious problems around the world and sometimes it can be hard to maintain the perspective and optimism needed to address them. Our goal as International Studies faculty and staff is to provide you with the knowledge and the tools you need to make positive change in the world, work for social justice, and live your best life as a global citizen. We look forward to going on this journey with you this year!

Professor Dana Zartner,  Chair, International Studies Department



Current MAIS Student Jose Zacarias Blogs During his Immersion Trip to Puebla


F15 MAIS student Jose Zacarias is spending his spring break on an immersion trip to Puebla, Mexico. Follow his adventures and insights on his blog – Here is an excerpt:

Preparing for Puebla

While reading and studying the global economy produces fascinating discoveries nothing can compare to being immersed in a Country’s culture and economy. Saturday I will be traveling to Puebla, Mexico, and while I’m excited for the hopes of visiting Cholula, one of the oldest inhabited cities in Mexico, and feasting on Mole Pueblano on my first visit ever, the majority of my excitement comes from visiting a place that is today known as a transit site for Central American migrants making their treacherous way to the U.S. – Mexico border. Interestingly enough, Puebla is also rapidly becoming a hot spot for multinational corporations, like Audi (Coincidence?).


UPDATE: Click here to listen to an interview conducted on Ibero Radio station about his experience in Puebla.

A Degree in International Studies from USF Provides the Skills Employers Want

by Dana Zartner, Chair, International Studies Department

“[L]iberal arts training – with its emphasis on creativity and critical thinking – is vital to … success ….” –Elizabeth Segran, Fast Company

A degree in international studies, whether through our Bachelor of Arts in International Studies (BAIS) major for undergraduates or our Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS) program for graduate students, provides engaged world citizens with a new way of approaching global issues. Rather than through the lens of a single discipline like politics, sociology, anthropology, history, or economics, our interdisciplinary International Studies programs encourage students to explore their interests through the lenses of all these fields. Students learn to consider a variety of different theories, methodologies, and ideas that break down traditional disciplinary barriers. The interdisciplinary nature of our programs, coupled with the grounding in a liberal arts education, provides our students with critical thinking and analysis skills as well as extensive intercultural communication experience. Combined, these factors provide a bigger “toolbox” for students when it comes to life after graduation and is desirable for employers ranging from NGOs and advocacy groups, to government agencies and private corporations.

lots of pics

There has been a great deal of discussion in the past few years about the benefit of a liberal arts education like that you can receive in the Bachelor’s and Master’s programs in International Studies at USF. Consistently, however, employers across a wide range of fields have come out in favor of the knowledge and skills students develop through the kind of critical, global, interdisciplinary programs we offer through our department. Even in fields like high tech, which is prevalent in the San Francisco Bay Area, CEOs consistently support liberal arts education (in fact one-third of Fortune 500 CEOs have liberal arts degrees!). A 2013 survey of over 300 employers by the American Association of Colleges and University found the following:

  • 93% of all employers surveyed cited a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems with both short- and long- term approaches as the most important abilities they look for in new hires.
  • 95% of employers surveyed say that it is important that their new hires possess ethical judgment and integrity, intercultural skills, and the capacity for continued new learning.
  • Collaborative problem-solving skills, internships, and community engagement were also strongly preferred by employers surveyed.

Each one of these skills and opportunities mentioned is something that we support and fully integrate into our Bachelor’s and Master’s programs. For our Master’s students, an internship requirement and a mixed-methods research class provide experience and tools that employers value. In the undergraduate program, study abroad programs (over 100 of which have internships included), our problem-centered research methods class, and opportunities such as serving as a Peer Advisor or working on the International Affairs Review offer opportunities to hone skills and integrate them with academic knowledge. The Department also offers numerous opportunities for all of our students to develop the breadth of their knowledge and the depth of their marketable skills, including workshops on resumes, applying to graduate school, vicarious trauma, developing expertise, and (coming soon!) grant writing and advocacy development.

Upon graduation, our students are desirable in a wide variety of fields. We currently have undergraduate and graduate alumni working in a diverse array of locations, including: Amnesty International, Apple, U.S. Department of State, Twitter, UNICEF, Youtube, United Nations Mine Action Service, NASA, International Rescue Committee, Special Olympics, Mama Hope, Spanish Ministry of Education, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Fair Trade USA, Bulgarian Fulbright Commission, Morgan Stanley, and the World Affairs Council of Northern California. We also have alumni all over the world, creating a network of ISatUSF alumni who remain committed to our programs and our students. Get started on your future with us!

Welcome to the International Studies Department Blog


We are happy to announce the newest member to the International Studies Department social media family. We’ll keep you informed with everything from on campus events to international news to internship and job advice to events in the Bay Area, and everything in between, including guest bloggers, faculty spotlights, student stories, and alumni appearances.